A Republican county commissioner in Utah came out as gay to his constituents via social media video on Wednesday.
“There’s no easy way to say this, I might as well just jump up and say it — I’m gay,” said Nathan Ivie in the video. “That’s my reality, and that’s what I need to talk to you about today.”
Ivie, a 40-year-old horse trainer, says he shared his first kiss with a boy when he was 9, survived a suicide attempt at 22, and has spent most of his life trying to come to terms with who he is.
“I diligently devoted myself to trying to cure myself, to heal myself,” said the LDS church member. “And doing all of the things that society and my faith-based institutions had taught me to do to cure myself — going on missions, getting married, etc., etc.”
He also shared that while he’s amicably separated from his wife of 13 years, he still considers her his best friend. And the couple are committed to raising their two children together.
In an interview, Ivie told the Herald Extra his coming out was the result of a few factors.
First, he wants “the 22-year-old version of himself” out there to know things will be ok.
“Obviously we have a problem in our community, especially in the LGBT community, of suicide,” he shared. “As someone who’s been there and pulled the trigger once: don’t.”
He also says that seeing two men holding hands on a river trail in Boise deeply affected him.
“It was just two regular human beings who loved each other who were walking holding hands as an intimate, caring couple, and that image really stuck with me for whatever reason,” he told the Herald Extra. “And that was probably one of the first times in my life I went, ‘Maybe I’m not screwed up. Maybe I’m not broken.’”
And last year, he found himself threatening to pull county funding for Provo’s Freedom Festival if LGBTQ groups weren’t allowed to participate in the annual 4th of July parade.
One of those groups was Encircle, a Provo nonprofit which works to prevent suicide among LGBTQ+ youth.
Ivie told the Herald Extra it was a difficult balancing act during that time advocating for Encircle and the other LGBTQ groups not to use the words, “Because I know.”
Openly gay former state Sen. Jim Dabakis took to Twitter to call Ivie an “ally.” Dabakis also sent a message to the county commissioner, “Welcome to an honest life, Nathan.”
When Provo Freedom Festival went all homophobic and refused entry to Encircle, I called Commissioner Ivie. He was an ally. He was bold. He was strong. And turns out–he was in the closet. Welcome to an honest life, Nathan. #utpol https://t.co/8AI12Bhsj1
— Jim Dabakis (@JimDabakis) May 22, 2019
Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City’s first openly gay mayor, also tweeted her support:
— Jackie Biskupski (@jackiebiskupski) May 22, 2019
Ivie told the Salt Lake Tribune the reaction to his coming out has been overwhelmingly positive.
The first-term county commissioner, elected in 2016 in a staunchly conservative county, added that his announcement does not affect his view on conservative politics.
“The Democratic Party should not have a monopoly on tolerance,” said Ivie. “I hope this illustrates that you can be gay and Republican. You can believe in limited government and personal liberties.”
And he does have one piece of advice for young LGBTQs struggling with being who they are.
“One of my favorite reminders is that a flower doesn’t need to be reminded it’s a flower, it just blooms,” Ivie shares. “Just bloom. Just be who you are and don’t fear that. Discover it, let it happen.”
WOW thank you for the ❤️. It’s already settling in and feels amazing. We have great people in this state. To live authentically today is like balm to the wounds of 30+ years of internal civil war. #thankyou #utpol #LGBTQ #peace #comingout
— nathan ivie (@IvieNathan) May 22, 2019